Eternal security rather than constant cheerfulness
Joy in suffering and hardship? Is that not unrealistic? No, says Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider, and shows that there can be joy in Christ even in such situations. Following are excerpts from a recent divine service.
Long and painful was the list that the Chief Apostle made in a divine service on 4 January 2015 in Weilheim in Germany: illness, death, injustice, imperfection (our own as well as our neighbour’s), decline in membership, the dwindling significance of Christianity in today’s world. “Things don’t look all that rosy,” he said. And then we as a church declare the year 2015 as a year of joy in Christ? “You are so out of touch with reality! How is that supposed to work?” the Chief Apostle said, in an attempt to respond to likely reactions to this motto. “Like everyone else, we are distressed when there is suffering, and are sad and cry.”
Christ is our refuge
But joy in Christ does not imply cheerfulness no matter what happens. “What it comes down to,” the Chief Apostle said, “is the fundamental well-being of the soul, the security that Christ offers us. This is something that remains even when everything goes wrong.”
The treasure that is ours
Joy in Christ initially proceeds from the joy we feel that we have a special treasure in Christ. “We are much richer than we think sometimes,” the Chief Apostle emphasized. “The spirit from below is aware of this. Otherwise he would not try to rob us of it and do everything in his power to separate us from Jesus. When things become very difficult in our life, then only because the treasure we have is so precious.”
Christ suffers with us
Joy in Christ is something we experience when we feel the nearness of the Lord in trials and temptations: “He suffers with us. He is very close to us,” the Chief Apostle said, and referred to the Christian persecution by Saul. “Jesus did not ask, ‘Why are you persecuting my church?’ but, ‘Why are you persecuting Me?’” (Acts 9: 4). Even in the last hours of life, the Lord is very close to His own, the Chief Apostle reassured the congregation, and referred to Deacon Stephen. Stephen gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7: 55).
The joy of overcoming
The joy at having overcome generates joy in Christ. “Especially when we are faced with trials and want to maintain our connection with Jesus, He will give us strength,” Chief Apostle Schneider said. “And then we will be able to remain one with the Lord despite illness, death, danger, and injustice.”
“And finally,” the Chief Apostle said, “joy in Christ emanates from a double hope. For one, there is our hope in salvation, because we trust in God who raises the dead. He will save us. He can make the impossible possible.” And then there is the hope that we will be with Him for all eternity. Those who remain faithful to God will receive grace and be changed and become like Him.
“These are the joys we can experience even when things are going badly for us,” the Chief Apostle said in conclusion. “That is a promise by the almighty God.”
Photo: NAK Süddeutschland